The Taliban has outlasted the world’s most potent military forces, and its two main factions now challenge the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As U.S. troops draw down, the next phase of conflict has consequences that extend far beyond the region.
Imagine President Franklin Roosevelt announcing at the end of 1944, after the liberation of France but before the final defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, that World War II was over and that U.S. forces were ending combat operations. Instead we would support our allies, from Britain to China, in their fight against the Axis powers.
In the concluding pages of his fascinating memoir, War Comes to Garmser, Carter Malkasian, a Pashto-speaking U.S. diplomat who was stationed in a volatile region of Afghanistan in 2009–11, voices a fear shared by many of the Westerners who have participated in the Afghan war during the past 13 years: "The most frustrating thing about leaving Garmser in July 2011 and now watching it from afar is that I cannot be certain that the [Afghan] government will be able to stand on its own. ... The British and the Marines had put the government in a better position to survive than it had enjoyed in the past. What they had not done was create a situation in which the government was sure to win future battles against Taliban [fighters] coming out of Pakistan."
International leaders and donors met in London on December 4, 2014, and they reviewed the democractically elected government's reform initiatives for fighting corruption and boosting the econommy and its requests for continued financial aid as military troops leave.
The Quarterly Reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to the United States Congress are required by Section 1229 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2008. Click on months below to view reports, beginning with the first in October 2008.
Emerson Brooking and Janine Davidson, writing in Defense One, assess the state of the special immigration program reserved for Afghan interpreters who have assisted American forces. The authors argue that its renewal is both a strategic and moral imperative.
The foreward of this U.S. Department of Defense document states, "This report to Congress is submitted consistent with Section 1230 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181). It includes a description of the comprehensive strategy of the United States for security and stability in Afghanistan. This report is the first in a series of reports required every 180 days through fiscal year 2010." See also the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) Quarterly Report to Congress and updates on the U.S. support role in Afghanistan after the end of the NATO combat mission.
On September 30, 2014, the United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral security agreement, which allows some American and NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan after December 31, when the the international combat mission formally ends. These remaining troops's main focus is training the Afghan security forces. The previous version of this agreement stalled after disagreements on troop levels. See also the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA)'s Independent Assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking argue that, on the eve of the 2014 NATO Wales Summit, the ongoing war in Afghanistan should not be relegated to a "side issue" in light of the crisis in Ukraine and growing threat of ISIS. The next few months will be critical in determining that Afghanistan does not follow the path of Iraq.
Following the release of her report on the status of women in Afghanistan, Catherine Powell moderates a discussion with Open Society Foundations' Rachel Reid and the U.S. Department of Defense's David Sedney on the role the United States can play in extending the progress of Afghan in women in education, the economy, health care, and beyond.
Catherine Powell argues that the advances made by Afghan women since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention remain fragile. She recommends that the United States bolster gender equality before the drawdown is complete and continue working with Afghanistan to maintain these gains in the future.
CFR's Daniel Markey sheds light on the two Taliban branches—the Afghan-based group that negotiated the release of a U.S. prisoner of war, and the Pakistani Taliban, which attacked the Karachi airport last weekend.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry gave statements on May 27, 2014, on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan after 2014. They outline the number of staff and troops that will be involved in upholding security commitments and assisting in political and economic transitions. President Obama also spoke on May 28, 2014, at the graduation ceremony at the West Point Academy, to discuss how Afghanistan fits into the broader military strategy.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »